England to fly home on Thursday after tour pair cleared of Covid infection

England to fly home on Thursday after tour pair cleared of Covid infection

England have been given the green light to leave South Africa on Thursday after the two tourists who had tested positive for Covid-19 over the weekend were subsequently cleared by further checks.

Eoin Morgan’s squad pulled out of playing two last-ditch ODIs before their departure after Ashley Giles, the team director, ceded to collective anxiety about the bio-secure bubble and an inability to focus on playing.

But while there were issues with the set-up – one South African player and two hotel staff members tested positive, forcing games at Newlands and Paarl to be called off – England’s two suspected cases have been dismissed following additional analysis and testing.

Dr Nick Peirce, chief medical officer of the England and Wales Cricket Board, said in a statement: “Following the independent ratification of the two unconfirmed positive Covid-19 tests from the England camp in South Africa, the ECB can confirm that, following further testing and analysis, in the opinion of the independent virologists based in Cape Town and London, the two individuals are not infected, and do not pose any risk of passing on the infection to the rest of the party.

“As such, the advice is they are now free to join the rest of the group and are no longer self-isolating. The England party, returning to the UK, will depart Cape Town on Thursday morning.”

It is a relief for the touring party, with the pair – believed to be a player and a member of the support staff – having faced the prospect of remaining behind in South Africa until 15 December to complete 10 days of isolation.

While Tom Curran and Tom Banton have pulled out of upcoming deals with the Big Bash due to bubble fatigue, the five players still set to travel to Australia – Sam Billings, Jason Roy, Liam Livingstone, Jake Ball and Lewis Gregory – are due for further Covid-19 tests before their departure.